KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 11: Spring 2019
Memoir: 330 words [R]

What I Told the Jehovah’s Witnesses and
Why They’ll Never Be Back

by Pamela Johnson Parker
 
I count this as one of my stellar achievements.
—PJP

A knock on the door rattles the glass. In sweats and leopard bathrobe, Pamela Johnson Parker goes to the door to see what caused the clamor. A well-dressed couple is standing there (Jehovah’s Witnesses 1 and 2), and they begin telling her about The Watchtower. A polite disagreement ensues.

JW1: You need to listen to us. (Leans against door so it cannot be shut.)

PJP: You are infringing on my writing time.

JW2: Are you writing about God?

PJP: Not right now. I’m a poet.

JW1: You need to be reading the Bible instead of poetry, ma’am.

PJP: I’ve already done that today. Besides, the Bible is full of poetry.

JW2: What? It is GOD’S HOLY WORD.

PJP: Yep—and the Psalms? Ecclesiastes? Song of Songs? They’re poems, right?

JW1: GOD’S HOLY WORD.

PJP: Do you know any psalm or any of Solomon by heart? If so, say one. You’ll hear the rhythm, the repetition, the lilt of poetry.

JW2: I don’t have to quote them to know the WORD by heart.

PJP: Well, I do—so here goes:

	I slept, but my heart was awake. 
	A sound! My beloved is knocking. 
	“Open to me, my sister, my love, 
	my dove, my perfect one, 
	for my head is wet with dew, 
	my locks with the drops of the night.” 
	I had put off my garment; 
	how could I put it on? 
	I had bathed my feet; 
	how could I muddy them? 
	My beloved put his hand to the latch, 
	and my heart was thrilled within me. 
	I arose to open to my beloved, 
	and my hands dripped with myrrh, 
	my fingers with liquid myrrh, 
	on the handles of the bolt. 
	I opened to my beloved... 

JW1: That’s not the Bible. (To JW2:) We’re leaving. (Turns to go; JW2 spins on heel and departs.)

PJP: Thanks for your time!

 

—Reprinted with poet’s permission from her Facebook page (22 December 2018)

Footnote:

“I slept but my heart was awake...” is from Song of Solomon (Chapter 5: Verses 2-6) in The Holy Bible.

Pamela Johnson Parker
Issue 11, Fall 2019

is the author of a collection of poetry, Cleave, which won the Trio Award from Trio House Press, and two chapbooks: Other Four-Letter Words (Finishing Line Press, 2009); and A Walk through the Memory Palace (Phoenicia Press, 2009), which won the Qaartsiluni Chapbook Prize. Her flash fiction, poems, and lyric essays have appeared in journals such as Iron Horse Literary Review, New Madrid, American Poetry Journal, diode, Anti-, Poets and Artists, Gamut, Spaces, and Muscadine Lines: A Journal of the South. Her work has also been featured in the anthologies Language Lessons: Volume 1 (Third Man Press), Poets on Painting, The Rivers Anthology, and Best New Poets 2011 (judged by D.A. Powell).

In 2018, Parker won an Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council, and her work was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and two other awards, Best of the Net and Best American Science and Nature Writing. She received her MFA from Murray State University in western Kentucky, where she taught humanities, creative writing, contemporary poetry, and forms of fiction before transferring to the Department of Art & Design. Her novel manuscript, Horn & Hardart, is currently making the rounds.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Art Through the Ages: Botticelli, an ekphrastic poem by Parker in KYSO Flash (Issue 6, Fall 2016; aka KF-6)

Wardrobe’s Advice to Norma Jean, an ekphrastic sonnet by Parker in KF-6

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